Synopsis of Part One (September 20, 2017): In the introduction of Keeping His Memory Alive, I explain that I was a Beatles fan, not an Elvis fan in my early teens. However, on September 13th, 2015, all that changed when I saw my first ETA concert.
(Please note: No part of my original article may be reproduced or copied without my written consent)
Keeping His Memory Alive: Part Two - Concerts
I was given two free tickets to the Avalon Theatre in Niagara Falls to see Return to Grace. At first I was moderately interested in seeing the show; but after I spotted a promo advertising the upcoming event on a big screen outside the theatre, my interest piqued. I asked my youngest daughter, an Elvis fan, to join me.
Return to Grace starred seasoned ETA Steve Michaels (aka Stephen Michael Kabakos) from Milton, Ontario. Both my daughter and I were amazed by his portrayal of Elvis. He flawlessly covered the decades of Elvis' career from the 1950s to 1973's Aloha from Hawaii. I was so blown away that I came back a second time the following week.
From September 2015 to December 2015--in just three months, I saw Steve Michaels in concert seven times. I drove as far as Port Hope, a fair distance from my home to see two concerts on one day. I began to notice many of the same people at each concert; so while waiting in line for a photo and an autograph, I would talk to them about the concert. Fans were willing to share their experiences and information about their favourite ETAs. Most had been going to concerts for years, and some even saw Elvis Presley perform alive. I could add little to the conversation, because embarrassingly, I had not been to any Elvis festivals or competitions, not even the mega annual event in Collingwood, Ontario. And when I had an opportunity to see the real Elvis perform in Buffalo, NY in 1976, I declined (much to my regret now). But thanks to technology, I have been able to fill in the years by reading articles online and watching performances on YouTube.
I have seen Steve Michaels perform a total of eighteen times in two years, which includes the May, 2017, Hershey Centre concert that was a 'word for word, note for note, song for song' restaging of the 1973 Aloha from Hawaii satellite concert, complete with Hawaiian dancers and full back-up. I was also invited to two 'invitation only' concerts in May and August. And coming full circle, I saw Return to Grace on September 16, 2017--two years and three days since my first ETA concert in 2015. I would have seen more concerts these past two years, but some were out of province or out of country. It may seem excessive, but I guess I was making up for lost time. I finally 'got' what fans of Elvis and ETAs knew all along.
But Steve isn't my only ETA. Last year I saw Gordon Hendricks from Great Britain twice in concert--once at the LAC (Lincoln Alexander Centre), in Hamilton, and a second time at the Casablanca in Grimsby. And this year I saw Matt Cage (aka Matt Dowsett), originally from Belleville, Ontario, at a local venue. Matt's performance was excellent, and I knew I wanted to see him in concert again. But I would have to wait because he was about to begin touring Ontario with the cast of Million Dollar Quartet in the role of young Elvis. As of today's date, I have seen six different artist perform live, and dozens more on YouTube. And my list keeps growing. There are thousands of wonderful, award winning, professional and non-professional ETAs worldwide, and every fan has their favourite. It isn't just about how the artist performs on stage. Fans have to feel a connection to develop an interest in their ETA's career. All three artists I have mentioned have very successful careers as professional ETAs: Steve Michaels has been performing as Elvis for twenty-one years; Gordon Hendricks' career skyrocketed after his win on Stars in Their Eyes in 2005; and Matt Cage is in his seventh year as a professional ETA. So what does it take to reach their level of success in a such a competitive field? I base my answers on research I have done and also on my personal preferences and observations. Keep in mind, "It's all in good fun." (Steve Michaels repeats, "It's all good fun, " four times after a woman jumps on stage at the Ypsilanti, Michigan Elvisfest to hug him, with interesting consequences. Ref: YouTube post by Dawn Gall).
To be continued...